Boys and Bookstores

I popped into a bookstore tonight after dinner, did the usual vanity check to see if they had my own in stock (they did not), and browsed a little. I was struck by the way the YA section was laid out. I mean, I’d seen Twilight prominently featured, with the Bella/Edward merch front and center, but this YA section was basically, at a glance, and even at a closer look, the Twilight section. ALL of the featured titles were paranormal romances, with a little Gossip Girl on the fringe. The “mainstream” fiction was shoved off to the side, comprising less than half of the shelf space given to the fantasy and series books.

I’m not having a go at the books or the people who read them or the people who write them, but I did wonder: Why would a boy think there was anything there for him? Seriously, would a teen boy who happened to be there even feel comfortable poking around for something he would want to read, let alone confident that he might find it?

Several young women were browsing, and I overheard one joking that somebody wouldn’t even go in the YA section with them, which I assume was a male friend or relative who, being a teenager, was pathologically self-concious like all teenagers, and didn’t want to get got caught dead in the Twilight section. Which, considering the fact that boys are not as likely to read, and are less likely  to see reading as something guys do, is not really good. I guess the bookstore wants to push the stuff that’s already selling, but I was disturbed at the fact that one bookstore had given up on selling to boys all together.

3 thoughts on “Boys and Bookstores

  1. For what it’s worth, my girls wouldn’t be interested in any of those books either. Neither of them managed to make it through Twilight, and when my husband brought home the movie, they laughed (we couldn’t watch it for all the facetious comments they made). They go for books they can happily share with boys — Eragon, the Philip Pullman series, etc. They’d happily pick Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett over anything to do with paranormal romance. I don’t think the problem is girl books vs boy books, it’s a certain type of highly polarized girl books vs books that everyone might enjoy. I’m not knocking the only-for-girls books, but I’d like to see more of the unisex books myself, and so would my daughters.

    • I don’t like the “gendrification” of kids books, either. It’s weird how polar it’s gotten, and the assumptions that are carried by both “girl books” and “boy books.”

  2. Yeah… Just, yeah. This is so true. I have a lot to say about this, but I’ll start with the fact that Sports Illustrated Kids has around six million readers a month, around ninety percent boys, and yet when those readers get a few years older, they basically find barbed wire in front of the book shelves. Pink barbed wire.

    I’m definitely no marketing genius (for example: Why do I put 80s videos on my blog?), but it doesn’t seem like freezing out half of its potential readers at a young age is the best idea for the book industry right now.

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